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Use Free-Motion Stitching to Create Exquisite Designs and Textures

Learn to create lavish stitching.

Take an average printed fabric or one with simple appliqués or embroideries and fill in the background with thread using a technique called free-motion stitching. Use this method to create fabrics and garments with exquisite designs and background textures; any sewing machine can work wonders.

extraordinary embroidery on long coat

The more background fabric you cover with free-motion stitching, the more texture you create. These wonderfully elegant, densely stitched fabrics are stable and may be left raw-edged. This technique works beautifully to make fabric for collars and cuffs. Free-motion-stitch the cut garment sections before sewing them together. Start stitching to create gorgeous fabrics steeped in rich detail.

Set Up the Machine

You can free-motion-stitch on any standard sewing machine. Just drop or cover the feed dogs, put on a free-motion or darning presser foot, use the appropriate thread, and start sewing. All sewing machines offer a darning or free-motion presser foot.

free-motion, quilting feet by brand


The real glamour comes from using showy embroidery threads such as good-quality metallic threads, and rayon or polyester embroidery threads. Rayon has a soft satin sheen, while polyester is slightly stiffer, but is stronger and colorfast. Choose the appropriate needle for the thread and fabric weight.
Metallic threads require special treatment. Use a vertical spool pin; condition the thread with Sewer’s Aid by running three rows of the liquid along the spool; and use either Metafil or Metallica needles designed especially for metallic thread.

embroidery threads add drama


Choose a stabilizer that will support the fabric through a strenuous stitch marathon. Fusible interfacing is a good choice for stability without added stiffness. Stabilizing with organza allows the fabric to drape and stay soft, and it looks good from the wrong side if it is exposed. Water-soluble or wash-away stabilizer leaves no trace once it’s rinsed out. Experiment with various stabilizers or interfacings under the…

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